tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 14, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EST
geneva upcoming. i view this bill as a means of strengthening our government's hand as we seek peace in syria and seek to strengthen those forces in syria that seek to protect their own people. and i look forward to working with my colleagues on this important effort to ensure that the united states continues to stand up and speak out strongly on the side of the people of syria against a regime that is striving solely and single mindedly to keep itself in power at all costs; in fact, whatever the cost in the slaughter and displacement of its own people. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i'd like to speak on the health care reform bill. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i think the president did the right thing today. the whole idea of health insurance reform was to get
people into health insurance that do not have health insurance. the idea wasn't for those who had insurance, unless they wanted to improve that insurance or that they did not have the insurance, they needed it, the idea certainly wasn't that if they had insurance they were satisfied with, that they weren't going to be able to keep that. and that's what the president had said, and that's what the president reaffirmed today, and i think the president did the right thing. insurance is a very complicateed subject. all of these things that we're hearing about in the setting up of all of these different health insurance exchanges in each of the states you are creating a
new pool of people, both young and old, both sick and healthy, that you spread that health risk, and over the larger number of people, if it is a typical population of young and old, not just all old and not just all sick, the more that you can spread that health risk over an average population, the more you can bring down the cost of that health insurance. that's basically the principle of health insurance. and so unless we can get the young and healthy people who need health insurance, by the way -- they may think they're invincible, but they may also have an accident, and instead of them ending up in the emergency
room at the time that they have the accident or when they really get sick and they don't have health insurance and they don't pay, well, guess who pays? all the rest of us pay in our health insurance premiums. so the whole idea is to reform this by getting that as many of the 45 million people that do not have health insurance into the health insurance system. and that's what these 50 state insurance exchanges are designed to be. so the issue today didn't directly affect that but for the fact that if those who have health insurance and they say that they're happy with it but they're really not because it's
a subpar health insurance policy, i call them dog policies, if they realize they have got a dog policy and then they see what they can really get in the exchange in a comprehensive policy that will cover maternity and all the other things on top of the guarantees that an insurance company can't cancel them, and on top of the guarantees that if they had a preexisting condition, that their insurance is not only not going to be canceled but that they will, in fact, be able to get insurance. well, what i have just described , guess what it is. it's the affordable care act. it's the ability to have health insurance when in fact a big part of our population,
45 million people in this country, have not been able to have it. so the narrow little issue today addressed by the president was that some people have health insurance, they like it, they ought to be able to keep it. but some people that have health insurance, they don't realize how much better they could have with much more comprehensive coverage, and once they see the difference, then those folks who the president said today they can keep those subpar policies, once they see the difference, they'll -- they're going to wouldn't to go to the health insurance exchange. that's what this is all about. now, unfortunately, this thing
has gotten all bald up in politics. it's a complicated subject. most of us don't even want to think about it. we want to leave it to our insurance agent, someone that is skilled. but now as we are making our own individual choices, which we are able to do by going on a web site and designing a policy for ourselves, then we are empowering ourselves to have the health care coverage that we want. in the meantime, a lot of turmoil, a lot of strife, a lot of politics. give it some time. and this is a former insurance
commissioner talking, and i know most of the tricks that the insurance companies will pull, but give it some time. down the road, with the insurance companies as i have seen, as i have talked to the c.e.o.'s, they want to cooperate because they realize this is good for their business as well because now they'll be able to offer so many more policies to people who in fact do need that health coverage. give it a little time. it's going to work. there will be a few twists and turns, we're not going to get rid of the politics because it's the nature of the beast these days. but give it a little time, and it will all work out. madam president, i yield the floor.
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i ask unanimous consent that brian stevens, an intern in my office be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: madam president, i come to the floor again today to talk about jobs, about manufacturing jobs, about the high quality, high skill, high wage jobs that america needs for today and for the future. today another bill was introduced here in the senate that shows that dealing with our ongoing challenges of supporting our manufacturing sector, of growing jobs in our manufacturing sector, can have bipartisan solutions. senator mark kirk of illinois joined me in introducing the american manufacturing competitiveness act. which has a simple but important objective, to require the creation of a national manufacturing strategy. today more than 12 million americans are directly employed
in manufacturing, and as i've said on the floor before as part of our manufacturing jobs for america initiative, manufacturing jobs are good jobs. they're high skilled jobs, they're high wage jobs, high benefit jobs and have a terrific secondary benefit in terms of the other support and service sector jobs that come along with manufacturing jobs in a community. but we need to know the direction we're heading in a country as we try to support the growth of manufacturing. we've grown more than half a million manufacturing jobs in the last three years. and that's an encouraging sign. and we are one of the most productive and in the output of our manufacturing sector of all the countries in the world. what we've lacked lakd is a really coordinated strategy between the federal government, the state governments and the private sector to align all of our investments. our investments in research and development, our investments in new skills, our investments in infrastructure, to make sure they're all heading in the right direction.
do our competitors have national manufacturing strategies? absolutely. germany, china, india, south africa, russia, they all have thoroughly developed, deeply researched and prominently successful strategies for how to accelerate and sustain manufacturing as a key part of their economy. so this bill would amend the america competes act, it would require every four years that the secretary of commerce advised by a board of 15 different folks pull together and think through and research and then deliver a national manufacturing strategy. this doesn't require new programs, it doesn't even necessarily require new funding or new federal expenditures, it just requires that we coordinate all the different areas with the federal government is investing in supporting manufacturing and where state and local governments are working in partnership with the private sector. this may be a small but vital step towards giving the lift we need for our manufacturing
sector to continue its sustained growth over had over the last fews years. why is a manufacturing strategy seadges? well, because -- essential? because we've got a couple of areas where, frankly, we're falling short in infrastructure, in access to capital and stills skills. having a highly skilled manufacturing work force is one of the things we need to do if we're going to win the fight to regain our international prominence as the leading global manufacturing country. the manufacturing institute and dloit have -- deloit have concluded there are 600,000 manufacturing jobs in america unfilled because of a lack of work force with the relevant skills. and the society of manufacturing engineers estimates that number could increase to flee million by 2015. so a focus through a national strategy and through some facilitating investments and
legislation by this body and the house and by enactment by haven't and investments across the board could deal with these important skill gaps. why are there skill gaps in manufacturing? many americans have a misconception about what manufacturing is like today. they have a picture in their head of manufacturing from 10 or 20 or 30 years ago when it required simple labor, when it required repeat, routine tasks, simply putting on a bolt or fixing a particular piece on to a vehicle where there wasn't any teamwork and there wasn't any continuous improvement required and analytical skills required but that was the ffg manufacturing line of the past, not of today and certainly not of the future. in fact, the skills required to be successful in modern advanced manufacturing are quite different than what they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. today, you have to work as a team. you have to be able to troubleshoot and problem solve. there are fewer people working
on manufacturing lines but they're higher in productivity because of the analytical skills are greater than before. that's why manufacturing can be a more satisfying career. a more rewarding place to work than it was in the past. because it engages the whole human being, it engages the whole worker, it allows them them to have ownership of the quality of the finished product. one of the lessons american automobile manufacturing learned in the 1970's and 1980's and 1990's as it faced higher quality elsewhere is to retool not just the manufacturing line but to empower the individual worker to be engaged in quality control. those of house worked in the manufacturing industry here in the senate i think know what it meant to have gone through a process where we had to certify, had to go through a searching auditing process to be able to demonstrate if you were a component supplier or part of a supply chain that you were meeting world-class standards. in fact, the international
organization for standardation and its 1,000 you audits which swept through the country over 20 years and resulted in a higher quality of manufacturing was just the first of a number of steps towards requiring those who were working in manufacturing facilities to have a higher level of skills. one of the ways in which we have an ongoing challenge is that manufacturers medium and small manufacturers with whom i visited up and down the state of delaware don't doabt know the level of skills and the quality of skills of the young people who supervise just finished high school or might have taken a certificate course with their community college, we don't have a translatable certificate for basic manufacturing skills. one of the innovations the i.t. industry came up with is a series of certifications that allows you to know when you're hiring a young person to be a network administrator, whether or not they really have the
practical skills they need to do that job well. you can't guess that by where they went to high school or what courses they took at a calendar number. don't want have a similar, transportable skill certification process and that might be be a part of this national manufacturing strategy. we've heard from manufacturers large and small not just in delaware but around the country about what they need, what would put a floor beneath their growth and allow them to be globally competitive. one would be a stronger skilled work force. two would be more access to capital. and third would be more and better access on a fair basis to the global market and global economy. we've had a great first couple of weeks with the manufacturing jobs for america initiative. more than 25 senators have contributed more than 40 bills. many of these are broad or bold or bipartisan bills which contain the ideas that i think can sustain and grow manufacturing here in the united states and going forward.
it's a growing menu of bills, bills that are bipartisan and that i believe not only need but deserve a vote here on the floor later in this congress. i am grateful to senator kirk for partnering with me in introducing this bill today, the american manufacturing competitiveness act, and i am hopeful that it will pick up more bipartisan sponsors in the days and weeks ahead and that working in partnership with the manufacturing caucus ably led by senator stabenow and senator graham that we will begin to hammer out the bipartisan bills that will deserve a vote on this floor and will ultimately reach bt a enactment navment yct -- enactment yct through the congress. with that we might be able to deliver on what we hear from our constituents, help us grow high quality jobs in this country. with that, madam president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: i ask unanimous consent to speak as long as the time for with the i consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, i rise today to talk about an amendment that i plan to introduce to the national defense authorization act next week. this is an amendment known as the bipartisan military justice improvement act. now, i want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the leadership in this effort. as we've said from the beginning, this is not a democratic idea or a republican idea, it's good, plain-old common sense. it's the right idea that is necessary to protect the men and women who fight for our country and our values in uniform every single day so i want to thank the broad coalition of
supporters for their leadership, former generals and commanders, advocates, who are making their voices heard so that they know these horrible crimes aren't going to happen to someone else, that the justice system we build is one they are deserving of. they are urging congress to use its responsibility of oversight and accountability, to use their role head-on by finally creating an independent military justice system that gives survivors of these horrific acts of violence a fair shot at justice. a system free of inherent bias and conflicts of interest that currently exist within the chain of command that will enable survivors to come forward and to hold their perpetrators accountable. the strong and growing bipartisan coalition of senators, survivors, veterans,
retired generals, commanding officers and advocates are showing this is not only free from partisan politics and ideology, but it's a pro-military piece of legislation that actually strengthens our military readiness, it strengthens unit cohesion, it strengthens good order and discipline. this week began with all americans saluting to our veterans, honoring our solemn commitment to the brave men and women who joined the armed services for all the right reasons -- to serve our country, defend all that we hold sacred, make america's military the best the world has ever known. these men and women put everything on the line to defend our country. each time they are called to serve, they answer that call. but too often these brave men and women find themselves in the fight of their lives, not on
some foreign battlefield in another place against an unknown enemy but within their own ranks on this soil, among men and women who they serve with. they are victims of a horrific act of sexual violence. sexual assault in the military is not new, but it has allowed to fester. it's been festering in the shadows for far too long. when our commander commanders hd for the past 25 years there is zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military what they really mean is there is zero accountability. the and that is the problem that we are facing, going back to the secretary of defense under dick cheney in 1992, he uttered those words "zero accountability." every secretary of defense since that time has said "zero accountability." but our system of justice within the military is broken, and our commanders are the ones who hold all the cards about whether
these cases can go forward. there are those who argue that these -- moving these decisions to independent military prosecutors will somehow undermine good order and discipline. well, let me tell you, if you have 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact, rape, and assault in the military last year alone, you do not have good order and discipline. our allies have already made these reforms, the ones we fight side by side with in every conflict -- israel, the u.k., canada, australia, the netherlands, germany, all of them have made this decision to say serious crimes deserve the objective review of trained military prosecutors. they should not rest in the chain of command. they should not rest where bias is possible, where conflicts of interest are rampant. it should not be there because the scales of justice are blind.
that is the whole point of the american justice system: blind justice, not tipped for the defendant, not tipped for the victim. blind, objective. we have a defense department panel that is actually take up evidence on this issue. they had a hearing. they asked members from our allies to come and testify about when they made this change, when you took this decision-making out of the chain of command. what happened? did you have a falling off of good order and discipline? they testified, no. the director of the australian defense foreign service paul cronin said that australia had faced the simple set. it's a bit like when we opened up to gays in the late-19 5e8z. there was a lot of concern in the at the time there would be issues. but there haven't been any.
there are those who argue that somehow our commanders would no longer be accountable. let me be clear about this. there is nothing in this bill that takes commander off the hook. they are still responsible, solely responsible, for maintaining good order and discipline, for setting the command climate, for saying these rapes are not going to happen on my watch. if they do victims can come forward and know they will be protected. they are responsible for make sure there's no retaliation. but, you know what? last year alone for those 3,000 brave surstliefers did come forward -- survivors that did come forward and report what happened to them, 62% were retaliated against. 62%. that means those command climates failed to protect victims telling their commanders "i've been raped. i've been sexually assaulted. i've been brutalized and justice
has to be done." what does retaliation look like? commanders saying things thraoeubg's your own -- saying things like it's your own fault. you're to blame. you're the problem. if you report this crime i'm going to write you up. do you want your military career to end. and for so many victims, that's what's happened. they're force out of the military. all they want to do is serve this country. some of our best and brightest, we are losing them because justice is impossible for them. some opponents say that this reform will cost too much money. one estimate is that if you had enough lawyers to do all this legal work, it might cost you $113 million, $4,000 a victim. that's an absurd argument. are you really telling me it costs too much to prosecute
rapists in the military? are you really telling me it costs too much to have enough lawyers to take these cases to trial? are you really telling me it costs too much to have a criminal justice system that honors the men and women who serve in this military? you cannot possibly be saying that. you cannot possibly be saying that. it's also an argument that makes no sense. do you know how much it costs our military to have 26,000 sexual assault rapes and unwanted sexual contact each year in the military? the rand corporation actually did an estimate. they said the cost of having this kind of rampant sexual assault rape in our military costs the mill, because they lose so many of these good men and women, there have to be new people trained, $3.6 billion last year alone. that's a cost. that's a cost we should not be
willing to pay. last argument, our opponents say that there are those that commanders will actually move more cases forward, that prosecutors wouldn't. it's just not true because, again, if you have 23,000 cases that aren't being reported and you create an objective criminal justice system, you are going to have more reporting. with more reporting, you are going to have more cases going to trial. many more cases than any argument that there might be an aggressive commander here or there. many more cases will go to trial and end in conviction if you create an objective system. now every single year the d.o.d. does do estimates. they estimate what is actually the incidents rate of sexual assault in the military. last year they had confidential
surveys men and women fill out. based on that confidential survey, they estimated there were 26,000 cases last year alone. sexual assault, rape, unwanted sexual contact. of that number, only 2,558, less than one in ten, sought justice by filing unrestricted reports. so of those 2,500 cases, 300 went to trial. so you are really talking about 1 in 100 cases end in justice. that is an abysmal record. we owe so much more to the men and women who serve in our military, so much more to those who will even die for this country. a chain of command oriented system that produces only 302
convictions of 2,558 actual reports is simply not holding enough alleged assailants accountable under any standard. one in a hundred cases ending in conviction isn't good enough under any standard. further, an independent system will protect not just the rights of the victim, but an accused who may well be innocent. because when a commander is the only decision-maker and they may know the victim and they may know the perpetrator or the accused, and they have a reason to deal with this case in a way that is reflective of his or her bias, what you are creating is an unjust system. justice must be blind. i have not come to this conclusion for this fundamentally needed reform lightly. but if you just listen to the
survivors, if you just listen to what happened to them, where the breach in the system is, where the failure of trust occurred, there is no possible reform that does not include taking it out of the chain of command. what i'd like to do as my senator, colleague, senator grassley has just joined the floor, senator grassley is one of our greatest champions on this bill. he has looked at this problem from the perspective of common sense. he's looked at this problem and said you can't possibly have a system rife with bias and conflicts of interest and expect justice will be done. i'm going to yield to my colleague when he's ready. he wants to address another issue. and you can let me know. so i will hold the floor until you're prepared to speak, senator grassley. if you'd like to take the floor now, you may.
i yield to my colleague. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, webster's dictionary defines the word "success" as the correct or desired result of an intent." i want to discuss the definition of the word "success" as we debate the affordable care act. on the day the bill was signed into law president obama said the following -- quote -- "today we're affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to discover for itself, that we're not a nation that scales back its aspirations." end of quote. such grand words for where we are today on that piece of legislation. today the success of the law that now bears his name
obamacare is defined in much more meager terms. today success is that when the folks at health and human services got up this morning, obamacare had not shut down. and when the folks at h.h.s. go to sleep at night, their day will have been a success if obamacare did not have to shut down. think of all that. think of all that we've been through to this point after four years. the fight over the bill and the extreme legislative means used to pass it through congress. then think about the 2010 and 2012 elections. think about the supreme court decision that effectively repealed half of the law's coverage. think of all the changes made to the law through regulation to
make sure obamacare launched. think of the postponing of the employer mandate. think of the postponing of lifetime limits. think of the impact that this law has had on our economy. it's had quite an impact on the economy. people losing jobs, people losing health insurance they currently have because if you like what you have, you may not be able to keep it. and let's talk about that issue for a minute. if you like what you have, you can keep it. this was the promise the president made to the american people at least 36 separate occasions. it's a great sound bite. it's easy to say. it rolls easily off 0 the tongue. it's also not true. it was never true.
it was obviously not true when the law was written. it was obviously not true when the first proposed regulation came out. this is what i said on the senate floor september 2010, quoting myself, "only in the district of columbia could you get away with telling people if you like what you have, you can keep it, and then pass regulation six months later that do just the opposite and figure that people are going to ignore it." end of quote. it's not that i have some magic crystal ball. it's simple. we all know it. the administration certainly knew the day would come when millions of people would receive cancellation notices of their insurance policy. now my constituents clearly know it. i've heard from many iowans who found out the hard way that the
president made a bunch of pie-in-the-sky promises that he knew he couldn't keep. constituents like this one from perry, iowa, who wrote to me saying -- quote -- "my husband and i are farmers. for nine years now we have bought our own policy. to keep the costs affordable, our plan is a major medical plan with a very high deductible. we recently received our letters that the plan was going away effective january 21, 2014. it will be updated to manage the mandates of obamacare. our insurance company is asking us to cancel our current policy and sign on to a higher rate effective december 1, 2013, or we could go to the government exchange. we did not keep our current policy. we did not keep our lower rates. i now have to pay for coverage that i do not want and will never use.
we are not low-income people that might qualify for assistance. we are the small business owner that is trying to live the american dream. i do not believe in large government that wants to run my life." end of quote. or a constituent living in mason, city, iowa -- quote -- "my wife and i are both 60 years old, and i have been covered with an excellent well mart bluecross blueshield policy for several years. it is not through my employer. we selected the plan because it had the features we wanted and needed. our choice. and because we are healthy, we have a preferred premium rate. yesterday we got a call from our agent explaining that since our plan is not grandfathered, it will need to be replaced at the end of 2014. the current plan has a $5,000 deductible and the premium is
$511 per month. the best option going forward for us from well mark would cost $955 per month, a modest 87% increase, and have -- and have $10,000 deductible. and because we have been diligent, responsible in saving for our upcoming retirement, we do not qualify for any taxpayer-funded subsidies." end of quote. these are just two of many letters, e-mails and phone calls that i've received from iowans. thousands have contacted me asking what can be done now that we clearly see that what the president sold the american people was a bag of washington's best gift-wrapped hot air. i ask the president, i ask my colleagues here in the senate to look at all we have been through as a country, all the grandiose
talk about the importance of this statute, and what we ultimately have is an optional medicaid expansion with a glorified high-risk pool and a government portal that makes the d.m.v. look efficient. americans deserve better. they voted for better. but this administration will somehow trudge ahead, keep the doors open. thousands of people enrolled instead of millions. they just released a number this week for the 36 states using the malfunctioning federal exchange. fewer than 27,000 people, including people who have not actually committed to purchase the plans, those who have put it in their shopping cart. less than 27,000 people. that's about 19 people per day per state. so the administration will limp
along, limp along with this pitiful signup process, hoping to get people properly assigned to health plans. and if the assignment of individuals to plans fails miserably, on january 1 the administration will dig in and sort it out. if the risk pools are a disaster, the administration will use extra regulatory, by any means necessary tools to keep this program afloat. because for all the talk of this bill being in the words of the vice president -- you saw this on television, in the words of the vice president a big, a very big expletive deal, success is not defined in the desires of 2010, but in making sure obamacare exists in some form or
fashion on january 20, 2017. we saw more of this digging in and sorting out this very day when the president spoke. insurance companies sent four million cancellation notices to comply with the president's law. they did it to comply with the law. let's be clear about it. in other words, these insurers read the law, and then do you know what they did? they did what every company ought to do. they ought to follow the law. unfortunately for them, the president did what he has been doing for three years. he has taken out his pencil and his eraser and rewritten or delayed his law on the fly when it's not working. so what does it now mean for insurers who are simply trying to follow the law as written, as you would expect them to follow
the law? let me tell you what one insurance company had to say, and i quote -- "this means that the insurance companies have 32 days to reprogram their computer system for policies, rates and eligibility, send notices to policyholders via u.s. mail, send a very complex letter that describes just what the differences are between specific policies and obamacare compliant plans, ask the consumer for their decision and give them a reasonable time to make that decision, and then enter those decisions back into their system without creating massive billing claim payments and provider eligibility list mistakes," end of quote from that consultant who was commenting on what the president did today by delaying or by making sure that you could
keep your program. so what did the president -- i was told i could have 20 minutes. the presiding officer: would the senator ask unanimous consent? mr. grassley: i would ask for four more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: so the only thing that the president has accomplished with his announcement today is that he's delaying his broken promise for another year. and i have to wonder what will it take for him to admit that his law isn't working and at least call for full delay? there is something that i think about the insurance companies. remember how all these big health insurance companies back in 2009 got behind the president's program for nationalizing our health care insurance -- or health insurance and program, put up a lot of money to sell it.
their lobbyists lobbied for it. what they ought to do is tell the american people what a bigamies take they made because they are getting stuck with it right now, as i just quote interested this consultant from the insurance companies. so it's time for us to admit that obamacare has not achieved the correct or desired results of an attempt. in other words, the definition of success, as i started out in my remarks. it has not been a success by any measure, unless, of course, you lower your standard to the point that the mere act of keeping the doors open is a success. how sad is it that all we have been through, we have been through a lot. maybe, just maybe, it's time to admit that the massive restructuring has failed. it may be that partisanship has failed. perhaps it's time to sit down and consider acquiescence bipartisan steps that we could take to lower costs and improve
quality. perhaps we could enact alternative reforms aimed at solving america's biggest health care problems, reforms like revising the tax code to help individuals who buy their own health insurance, allowing people to purchase health coverage across state lines and form risk pools in the individual markets, expanding tax-free health savings accounts, making health care price and quality information more transparent. cracking down on frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, using high-risk pools to ensure people with preexisting conditions, giving states more freedom to improve medicaid like rhode island got a few years ago that seems to be a success and using provider competition, consumer choice to bring down costs in medicare and throughout the health care delivery system. the american people need to know that this failed program is not
the only answer. i yield the floor. and i thank the senator from new york for yielding to me. i forget to say that. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: at the outset, i ask unanimous consent that peter norstein, a detailee on the senate judiciary committee, be granted senate floor privileges for the duration of the 103rd congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. my purpose in being here today,
mr. president, is very simply to support the military justice improvement act and the very urgent need to include in its worthwhile and comprehensive provisions in the national defense authorization act for the fiscal year 2014, either by way of amendment or whatever measure may be appropriate, and to support the very eloquent remarks made by the senator from new york. she has been a steadfast and strong advocate of necessary changes in the military code of justice, and has acted as chairman of the subcommittee on personnel of the senate armed services committee to approach this issue, a very difficult issue, in strengthening the
system of justice for our men and women in uniform with care and caution as well as vigor and bravery. and i know how different the views may be in this body among our colleagues, and i have listened to people on both sides of this argument very carefully before reaching my own conclusion. one statistic that strikes me as perhaps paramount in importance is the gap between the numbers of victims estimated to be close to 30,000 or perhaps in excess, we don't know precisely, but the estimates from the military itself indicate that there are tens of thousands, and very likely more than 30,000. compared to the numbers of reported cases, around 3,000,
perhaps 2,500 who have sought enough for sexual assault in the military. and by the way, only about 302 go to trial every year. that was the number for last year. my view is that we must remove any concerns about undue command influence on the process so that more victims will seek justice. the only way to deter this heinous, horrific crime is to encourage more reporting so that there can be more prosecutions, enabling more deterrents through strong and swift justice. the goal is justice. not necessarily punishment for its own sake but justice. and i have listened to my colleagues who feel that the act as written or as amended should
keep prosecuting authority in the commander. i have listened carefully to them and i believe their sincerity and their respect for victims is unquestionable. this is not about who respect victims or cares for them the most. it is about what system will best seek justice and deter the epidemic, the spreading numbers of these horrific crimes. i've listened also to military professionals who have come before senator gillibrand's subcommittee as well as the committee as a whole. i have questioned them repeatedly in public and in private, and i am convinced beyond any doubt that they are as outraged and that they find
this crime as abhorrent and antithetical to their profession as anyone in this body. and yet for years and years, we have heard that the military has zero tolerance, and their renewed vigor is welcome but in my view has to be matched by reforms in the process that make sure that that commitment is real and realized in real life. but most important, mr. president, i have listened to the victims who have come both publicly and privately to the armed services committee where i serve and have told their stories and told their stories also in writing and in documentaries like the invisible war, a very powerful and compelling argument for reform.
i've listened to them as they have expressed to me what matters to them in the fear of retaliation and adverse effect on their careers from the present structure of prosecuting authority, and i believe that prosecuting authority should be made the responsibility of an independent experience, objective, trained professional. i recognize and i understand that there is immense power in the present system given to any commander who sends men and women under his power potentially to give their lives for their country, and their argument and feeling that they should hold the same power over punishment for crimes that those
men and women may commit under their command. good order and discipline i recognize is a profoundly important goal, one of the paramount goals, and an irreplaceable and undenial goal. -- undeniable goal. good order and discipline is hardly well served by acts of sexual assault in the military, which is why those professionals say they have zero tolerance for this heinous crime. and i've listened to them about why they feel that the present system should be continued. we need a military justice system that works as well in camp lebenick as it does in camp pendleton or camp le jeune, and we need a justice system that
works well not just in one season or another politically but in all seasons, at all times, for all men and women. and i think that the approach best suited to reach that goal is the one that is embodied in legislation that has been introduced by the senator from new york, senator gillibrand. and of course in listening to all those sources of insight and perspective on this issue, i also have regarded my own experience as a prosecutor, and i would say the most difficult decisions i made as a u.s. attorney prosecuting under federal law and as state attorney general largely with civil authority was whether to charge, and what violations of law to charge, because as a practical matter, the charge can
ruin a life, often does, ruin a career, ruin a family, ruin an individual's standing in society, even if that individual is eventually found not guilty at trial. the charge stands forever. and i found that those decisions whether to charge were often the most difficult decisions that i had to make. not only because of the consequences to the individual but the difficulty of making a decision about whether a fact finder, whether a court or a jury, would conclude that every element of the crime as charged was proved beyond a reasonable doubt. that is the responsibility of the jury or the judge, depending on who's trying the case and who the fact finder is, and their instances where
these decisions are air tight and easy, but in many cases and most particularly in cases involving sexual assault, they are sometimes difficult to make. there is forensic evidence, there are metrics, there are precise scientific measures, but there is also a judgment to be made about whom to believe, where there are conflicting versions of an incident. and that is why i believe that these decisions should be made by professionals who have experience, who know how to prove cases, how to try them, how to bring them in court. and who are capable of making decisions that will not only be fair and objective but will be seen as fair and objective. because in the criminal justice
process, often perception is as important as reality when it comes to a victim coming forward to put his or her life on the line and complain, particularly in a system like the military. but often in society in general. and sexual assault as a crime in society is often underreported and underprosecuted because of the fierce -- fears, correctly, understandably, on the part of victims. we've made progress in encouraging victims to come forward in civilian life and in the military. but there is much more to be done, and i believe that the reforms offered by the military justice improvement act are important and essential to that goal. i want to say that the national
defense authorization act in title 5 has 14 specific revisions to our military justice system that will help ensure a more just process and more just outcome for cases involving sexual assault. these changes to our current system were drafted in a bipartisan manner that defines so often -- in fact, almost uniformly -- the work of the armed services committee under the leadership of chairman levin and ranking member inhofe, and i want to express my appreciation for their leadership. those reforms are important to ensure a crime victim's rights are afforded under the code -- uniform code of military justice, and that victims receive a special victims
advocate and that those found guilty of sexual assault will receive a mandatory discharge. these reforms which were initially proposed by myself and others will help improve this system. and they are a telling re few the legislation -- refutation of anyone who says in testimony before our committee or otherwise, that the ucmj is serving its intended purpose of justice when it previously dealt with cases of military assault. these reforms are necessary and necessary now. and i support them. and yet as i look at the totality of what is now contained in this bill, it seems insufficient. i'm left with the conclusion, it's an uneasy conclusion but a very strong one, that we have not yet achieved what we need to accomplish, namely, a system
of justice that has the full confidence and trust of victims and all parties, having the confidence and trust of survivors. they are, indeed, survivors. it's vital to encourage reporting of this crime, and building the evidence that is necessary for those trained, experienced prosecutors to decide whether to pursue charges, against whom, what kind of charges. i believe that we can strike a balance, that we can achieve justice and not only maintain good order and discipline but, in fact, enhance it. in the if this reform is adopted future military commanders will thank the senate and the congress for enabling them to pursue what they know best
professionally, what is their calling and their mission, which is to make this nation's national security and defense the best in the world, as it has been always, and they are to be thanked and we all thank them for their commitment and their professionalism in the service of that goal. i am joined in supporting these reforms in the military justice improvement act by the defense advisory committee on women in service that last month recommended, -- and i quote -- "decisions to prosecute, to determine the kind of court-martial to convene, to detail the members of the court-martial and decide the extent of the punishment should be placed in the hands of the military personnel with legal expertise and experience, and who are outside the chain of command of the victim and the
accused" -- end quote. that is also the view of jay johnson, the president's nominee to head the department of homeland security and former pentagon general counsel hoe who was asked whether there are shortcomings in the military justice system and replied -- quote -- "i have recently come to the conclusion that the answer to that conclusion is yes." and went on to say -- quote -- "last year secretary panetta raised the initial disposition authority for how these cases should be handled to the colonel-captain level and the problem i believe has become so pervasive the bad behavior is so pervasive, we need to look at fundamental change in the military justice system itself" -- end quote. and we're joined in this view also by the vietnam veterans of america, an organization that stands in favor of military justice improvement act because
-- quote -- "far too many victims fail to report or choose restricted reporting primarily for two reasons, retaliation and total lack of faith in fair, just treatment within the chain of command" -- end quote. so despite my deference to our military leaders and my respect for them and my feeling that they are entitled to deference in issues that affect good order and discipline, i believe that we have a responsibility in this congress to fix this system, to repair it and reform it. and do it in ways that vindicate the rights of victims, survivors, as well as the accused, to make sure that we do justice. our responsibility under article 1, section 4, clause 14 of the
constitution is -- quote -- "to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." that is why the uniform code of military justice is adopted by the united states congress. and we will be held, rightly, responsible and accountable if we fail to act and make effective reforms, if we fail to put an end to sexual assault in the military. our military system has some of the most dedicated, our best and our bravest, of this generation, just as has been true in past generations. i'm proud to say that two of my sons currently serve in the military. and we need a system of justice that matches their excellence,
that keeps faith with their dedication and sense of duty. that is as fair and just as they are strong and capable in protecting this country. we owe our freedoms, we owe our own justice system in this country and all of our rights and liberties to the defense that they have provided decade after decade, war after war, to this nation. and so i urge my colleagues to come together and i know they will do so on a bipartisan basis to finish the work of reforming our system of military justice. i look forward to the day of realizing a very simple ideal that every service member who is a survivor, a victim of sexual
assault is 234eu8d to an independent arbiter, an objective prosecutor with the knowledge that that victim will be embraced and supported by the system and welcomed back into the ranks even as they face the grueling and painful task of being involved in the prosecution. and i look forward to the day also that any perpetrator knows without question that they will be separated from service and punished if they are found guilty. these ideals are as much engrained in our military as the ideals of valor, honor, and tradition, and these changes i think will help our bravest and
finest members who contribute and put their lives on the line to reach those ideals. these changes are necessary and i look forward to accomplishing them, working with my colleagues. mr. president, i thank you and i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from --. a senator: i ask unanimous consent the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: may i ask further unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for such time as i may consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i'm here because i serve on the conference committee that is charged with negotiating a bipartisan budget deal. the democrats have come to the
table with a senate-passed budget, the presiding officer will remember the long, all-night ordeal of that budget. our budget replaces the dumb and harmful sequester cuts with a balanced deficit reduction. in fact, you don't get much more balanced than the democratic program. it is half from spending cuts and half from closing loopholes in the tax code. our proposal would add almost $2 trillion more of deficit reduction to the $2.5 trillion that we have already done so far. and let's look at what we have done so far. of the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction to date, about $1.5 trillion has come from cuts in what we call discretionary
spending, the spending that congress approves each year and that funds most government operations including our military. this is the $1.5 trillion that's been cut out of all of the $12.6 trillion in spending. we got another $600 billion in revenue, mostly from letting the bush tax cuts expire for very high-income taxpayers. so this thin, thin red line is the additional $600 billion in revenues compared to the existing revenues of the country. so as you'll see, we've cut far more in spending than we've added in revenues going into this budget discussion. the remainder of the $2.5 trillion comes from the interest savings associated with those just to make the numbers true up. this circle is here to
demonstrate that to date we have yet to touch one dime in the other big budget item, which is loophole spending in the tax code. this is a pretty good sized chunk of annual spending, about 12% off of the levels projected in 2010. the fiscal cliff bill that restored clinton-era rates to families making over $450,000 added about 2% to our revenue predictions. this loopholes category which is worth at least $14 trillion, conceivably a lot more because some of the loopholes are so wide you don't even know what's going through them, the money just shows up in the cayman islands and we don't know what we've lost. that remains totally untouched. what we want to do is take just 7%, a tiny slice of this loophole revenue, and bring it back and use it for deficit
reduction. that, touching the loophole nerve, is what has brought the republicans to a screeching halt. in contrast to our exactly balanced approach -- 50% spending, 50% loopholes -- chairman ryan's budget would 100% go after the programs on which low-income and middle-class americans rely without touching a single tax code giveaway. no balance at all. but, of course, unbalanced is the republican way in budgets. for instance, the republican budget changes medicare into a voucher program. that's not very balanced. that's not what the american people want. the republican budget cuts non-defense discretionary spending to levels lower than anything the american public has ever seen since o.m.b. started keeping track.
that is a extreme budget and not a balanced approach. the republican budget would set annual domestic spending levels below 1962 and if you think back to what america was like back in 1962, there were no pell grants. so if any of the pages here were someday thinking of getting a pell grant, that was gone, didn't exist in 1962. in 1962, 30% of american seniors lived in poverty. and that is the level of spending that the republican budget would take us back to. and the rhetoric has just been just as unbalanced as the proposals. speaker boehner has said, the talk about raising revenue is over. over. we haven't even started and he says it's over. zero percent out of loopholes and he says the conversation is over? i don't think so. the conversation hasn't even begun.
but true to the speaker's rhetoric, the republican budget puts the burden of deficit reduction bang on to americans who can least afford it while preserving for corporations and for the people who get the benefit of tax code giveaways, every single dollar. in his conference committee opening remarks, chairman ryan said, "if this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we're not going to get anywhere." well, let's take a look at the so-called taxes, this loophole area that democrats would like to discuss. by the way, we get $975 billion out of that, which is a slice slightly larger than this one and considerably smaller than that one. so we do we get it from? well, we go to what i refer to as the republican treasure-tro treasure-trove. we go to their alli baba's cave
of treasure carved aside and saved for corporations and the rich. we go to the tax earmarks and the special deals that special interests have year after year squirreled away into the tax code through their lobbyists and through their influence. how big can alli baba's cave be? seriously. how much money goes out the back door of the tax code through these loopholes and deductions? well, i will show you. this bar represents $1.13 trillion, which is the amount of revenue collected by the government through the individual income sections of the tax code. that's what goes into uncle sam's pocket from the tax code. here's what goes out the back door in loopholes and deductio deductions, $1.02 trillion.
so for every dollar that actually gets collected under the individual income tax, 90 cents goes out the back door through the loophole circle. and that's off-limits? i don't see why. it's a grand total every year of more than a trillion dollars. don't tell me we can't touch it at all. and, by the way, when you're talking budget numbers, you multiply by 10. so $1 trillion over 10 years becomes $10 trillion. that's talking some pretty serious money to pretend, as chairman ryan said, "if we're going to have an argument about taxes, we're not going to get anywhere." we're not even going to look at $10 trillion and get anywhere? on the corporate side here, for every dollar of revenues the united states collects -- and here it is, $242 billion that we
actually collect, that goes into uncle sam's pocket from corporate income tax revenue -- here's what goes out the back door of the corporate tax code, $148 billion. so like individual income, when it comes to corporate income, for every dollar that uncle sam actually gets in revenues through the tax code, 60 cents-plus goes out the back door through loopholes and deductions and other tax gimmicks. so, again, we budget for 10 years so $148 billion becomes pretty close to $1.5 trillion. that's big bucks. and if you add the two together and do the 10 years, which is what we do in the budget world, and account for modest growth over those 10 years, we're talking about $14 trillion. we need to do $975 billion in
deficit reduction out of loopholes from a $14 trillion number. don't tell me we can't find it there. and, of course, the $14 trillion doesn't even count the billions of dollars that corporations and wealthy tax avoiders hide offshore, they don't even go through the gateway of the tax code and then back out the back door, they don't even get counted in the first instance. they go off to the cayman islands, they go off to tax havens, they get hidden in swiss bank accounts, who know what? but they don't get subjected to american taxation. so -- and by the way, that's pretty big business. chairman conrad, who was our predecessor chairman on the budget committee, used to have a slide that he would show here that showed a picture of a rather bland-looking four-spr or
five-story building, a building in the cayman islands that didn't look like very much, not very big. you could drive by it and not particularly notice it. but he would point out that in that little building, over 18,000 companies claimed to be doing business. and he would point out that the kind of business that they were doing was monkey business with the tax code because nobody could put 18,000 businesses into that rinky-dink little building. and none of that stuff gets counted. the $149 trillion is the stuff that goes through and then out the back door. -- the $149 trillion is the stuff that goes through and then out the back door. so the spending, the earmarks that gets done through the tax code is a very, very big treasure-trove. and while much of this tax spending helps low-income and middle-class families, too much of it goes to high-income taxpayers who don't need it but who are clever and connected enough to get special deals, to get their tax earmark into the tax code.
but, of course, the republicans don't want us to look in their treasure-trove. alli baba's cave of tax tricks is where the juiciest earmarks are there for special interests. if you remember back to the last presidential campaign, it became public that mitt romney had to fiddle his taxes in order to get his tax rate up to a 14% tax rate. now, some people gimmick their taxes to try to get their rates down. the rates for people like mitt romney are so low to begin with that he had to play tax games to get his rates up to 14% so that he wouldn't look too bad as a presidential candidate. 14% is a lower tax rate than a solitary hospital orderly pays. the guy who is walking down the
linoleum hallways at rhode island hospital at 2:00 in the morning delivering supplies pays a higher tax rate than that. and we can't do anything about that? that's a tax question we can't discuss? well, how do romney and the hedge fund billionaires get away with that? look in alli baba's cave of tax treasure for the carried interest exception. if you want to know where exxonmobil, which is one of the richest and most profitable corporations in the history of the world, gets his hands into the american taxpayers' pockets and pulls out oil and gas subsidies? look for those big oil subsidies in alli baba's treasure cave. do you want to know why amazon and boeing and carnival cruise lines and duke energy and p.g.&e., all companies making billions of dollars in profits per year pay effective tax rates
well under 10%? look at the $150 billion in corporate tax giveaways there in alli baba's treasure cave. do you want to know how it is that corporate jets -- corporate jets -- get special favored tax treatment compared to the commercial jets that ordinary mortals fly around on? look at the accelerated corporate jet depreciation schedules in alli baba's tax treasure cave. when the speaker says the talk about raising revenue is over, look at what he is protecting. the republican treasure-trove of corporate and special interest earmarks heaped up like gold and jewels in the old illustration in their alli baba's cave of tax treasures. well, we democrats are knocking
at that door. we're saying, america's paid in deficit reduction $1.5 trillion already. and we're offering another $975 billion on top of that. we're saying that $600 billion came out of tax increases. but what about loopholes? what about loopholes? now we want to go into the cave. so the republicans are getting very anxious. the alarms are rinking at the special interests and our colleagues are rushing to the trenches to defend the special interests and to defend their cherished tax earmarks and that's why they want to keep revenue, loophole closing out of the debt and deficit discussion.
because they know that once we start taking a real look into alli baba's cave, some of that stuff will be impossible to defend to the american people. it wasn't fair when it first went in. it has never been in through its sordid history in the tax code and it is not sitting well in the tax code now. these are things we should get rid of even if we didn't need it for the debt and deficit. this is special interest crony can'capitalism at its worse. and we intend to have a look at it in these discussions. if you listen in the budget committee, the republicans said is plainly: not a penny. not a penny of tax loopholes can go for deficit reduction. now, they've said they're willing to move the treasure around a little bit in ali baba's